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Home > Health Library > Bladder Cancer
Cancer is the growth of abnormal cells in the body. These extra cells grow together and form masses, called tumors. In bladder cancer, these growths happen in the bladder.
The bladder is the part of your urinary tract that stores your urine until you are ready to let it out.
The most common type of bladder cancer starts in the inner layer of the bladder. It is called transitional cell carcinoma. It happens most often in people who are in their 60s or older.
Experts don't know exactly what causes bladder cancer. But they have found that genetic changes play a role. Also, cigarette smoking and chemicals from your environment can cause cell changes in your bladder, where urine is stored. These cell changes can lead to cancer.
Blood in the urine is the main symptom. Other symptoms include having to urinate often or feeling pain when you urinate. Bladder cancer can also cause pain in the lower back and pelvis.
Your doctor will ask about your medical history and do a physical exam. You may get a urine test. A cystoscopy may be done to see inside your bladder. If abnormal tissue is found, another procedure, a transurethral resection of the bladder tumor (TURBT), will be done to take a biopsy or remove the tissue.
Treatment for bladder cancer is based on the stage of the cancer and other things, such as your overall health. The main treatment is surgery to remove the cancer. Other treatment options may include chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiation therapy, and targeted therapy.
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The exact cause of bladder cancer isn't known. But experts have found that genetic changes are involved. Also, cigarette smoking and chemicals from your environment can cause cell changes in the lining of your bladder, where urine is stored. These cell changes can lead to cancer.
Other things that can cause cell changes in your bladder include having bladder stones or having the schistosomiasis parasite.
Anything that increases your chances of getting a disease is called a risk factor. The main risk factors for bladder cancer include:
Bladder cancer often begins in the lining of the bladder. It may spread into the bladder wall and out to the lymph nodes or other organs. Most bladder cancer can be successfully treated. But bladder cancer often comes back, so you may get other treatments to lower the chances of that happening.
Call your doctor if you:
If you have been diagnosed with cancer, be sure to follow your doctor's instructions about calling when you have problems, new symptoms, or symptoms that get worse.
To diagnose bladder cancer, your doctor will:
If your doctor finds cancer, there may be other tests to see how much the cancer has grown and if it has spread.
Treatment for bladder cancer is based on the stage of the cancer and other things, such as your overall health. Most people have:
Other treatments include:
These medicines kill fast-growing cells. These include cancer cells and some normal cells. Chemotherapy may be given before or after surgery. Or it may be put into the bladder.
Other treatments include immunotherapy, which can be put into the bladder or given by IV, and targeted therapy.
If bladder cancer comes back inside the bladder, it can be removed. If it comes back outside of the bladder, it can be treated to slow the growth of the cancer and relieve symptoms.
Palliative care is a type of care for people who have a serious illness. It's different from care to cure your illness, called curative treatment. Palliative care provides an extra layer of support that can improve your quality of life—not just in your body, but also in your mind and spirit. Sometimes palliative care is combined with curative treatment.
The kind of care you get depends on what you need. Your goals guide your care. You can get both palliative care and care to treat your illness. You don't have to choose one or the other.
Palliative care can help you manage symptoms, pain, or side effects from treatment. It may help you and those close to you better understand your illness, talk more openly about your feelings, or decide what treatment you want or don't want. It can also help you communicate better with your doctors, nurses, family, and friends.
It can be hard to live with an illness that cannot be cured. But if your health is getting worse, you may want to make decisions about end-of-life care. Planning for the end of your life does not mean that you are giving up. It is a way to make sure that your wishes are met. Clearly stating your wishes can make it easier for your loved ones. Making plans while you are still able may also ease your mind and make your final days less stressful and more meaningful.
Some people use complementary therapies along with medical treatment. They may help relieve the symptoms and stress of cancer or the side effects of cancer treatment. Therapies that may be helpful include:
Talk with your doctor about any of these options you would like to try. And let your doctor know if you are already using any complementary therapies. They are not meant to take the place of standard medical treatment. But they may help you feel better and cope better with treatment.
Relationships take on new importance when you're faced with cancer. Your family and friends can help support you. You may also want to look beyond those who are close to you.
Remember that the people around you want to support you, and asking for help isn't a sign of weakness.
Your friends and family want to help, but some of them may not know what to do. It may help to make a list. For example, you might ask them to:
Places to turn for support include:
Current as of:
September 8, 2021
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal MedicineKathleen Romito MD - Family MedicineChristopher G. Wood MD, FACS - Urology, Oncology
Current as of: September 8, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Christopher G. Wood MD, FACS - Urology, Oncology
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